Presented in this volume is a collection of 85 Adhyatmika Sankeerthanas of the great padakavita Pitaamaha Sri Talapakka Annamacharya on Sri Vari Sevas and Vahanas used at the famous temple for Lord Venkateswara at Tirumala. This volume is a follow up to the earlier two volumes titled – Spiritual Heritage of Annamacharya published by the Tirumala Tirupathi Devathanams.
Those two volumes covered about 150 poems of Annamacharya mainly highlighting the poet's thoughts on sarangati, on the saulabhya, paratva, the antaryamitva, bhakti prapatti concepts as also on the purushakara role played by the Goddess.
This third volum is devoted solely to present the songs of Annamacharya on the nityotsavas, maasotsavas and varshotsavas celebrated in tirumala. As is well known in Tirumala, there is a festival observed everyday justifying adage that the temple town sport a festive look with Nitya Kalyanam and paccha thoranam. It is not possible to cover all the utsavas in a small book like this. So, only some important utsavas have been selected for presentation in this volume.
Annamacharya wrote nearly 32,000 poems of which about 13,000 poems only are available to us as on date. Most of these songs are in Telugu and a few are in Sanskrit. It is indeed surprising that the compositions of such a great poet have bot been popularized sufficiently in languages other than Telugu. Only recently a few attempts have been made to translate a few poems into English, so that the non-Telugu knowing public could taste the divine flavour of the soul striring poems steeped in bhakti composed by this great vagyeyakara. As in the case of the previous two volumes, in this volume also I first present a general topic and then move on to presenting the poems of Annamacharya. In this book therefore I first the significant role of a temple in ones life and then the significance of an utsava and a brief account of select utsavas are narrated. Later, select songs on the Srivari sevas observed at Tirumala are presented.
While presenting the transliterated version of the Teugu songs in English, I took the conscious decision to use the popular spelling of the Telugu words in English. I did not use the diacritical marks which is the usual practice. I felt that a majority of the English reading public are not familiar with the strict academic system of transliteration adopting the diacritical marks. Many, I think, find it easier to read the Telugu words in simple transliterated English, This transliterated version is them followed by a free translation of the said poem into English. Hope the readers will fins this methods easier to read and appreciate.
I now wish to place one record my grateful thanks to the members of my family who generously encouraged me in this venture. I wish to specially thank my sister Dr. M.S. Lakshmikumari and my brother Dr. M.S. Rajajee who did a thorough and meticulous job by going through every line and correcting wherever there were mistakes and adding sentences where there were omissions on my part.
My special thanks are also due to Shri T. Krishna Rao and Shri K. Ramji for the excellent secretarial assistance provided by them. The job was fairly heavy; but both of them did it in a willing, cheerful manner as their kainkarya to the Lord of the Seven Hills.
I will be failing in-my duty if I do not place record my special thanks to Shri Thyagarajan and Shrimathi Lalitha who helped me in transferring and placing this material on two Compact Discs so that it is ready for publication. In spite of their preoccupation with other important works, these two young friends of mine took up task with a personal zest spared no efforts in completing the job with perfection in a record time.
While selecting the songs of Annamacharya on the sevas at Tirumala, I referred to the 19 volumes published by the Tirumala Tirupathi Devasthanams on the Adhyatmika and Sringara Sankeertanas of Annamacharya. Further I wanted to go through the commentaries on those songs, if any, in Telugu as well as in Tamil by the Professors and Academicians in the field. A number of people helped me with copies of their books, articles etc. Important amongst such academicians to whom I owe my greatful thanks are Dr. Sarvottama Rao, Dr. Samudraala Lakshmaniah, Dr. Chitraju Govindaraju, Dr. G. Mohan, Dr. Korada Ramakrishna and Sri. Shankar Rao. My special thanks to them for the interest
and encouragement extended by these senior Professors.
The songs of Annamacharya have a unique blend of the literary and colloquial styles in Telugu literature. Very often he uses the dialect of the Cudappah district spoken some 600 years ago. In order to ensure that I have correctly grasped and suitably presented in English the thoughts expressed by Annamacharya, I sought the help of Prof. M. Narasimhacharya, retired Head of The Department of Vaishnavism of the University of Madras. I was privileged to have co-authored with him the earlier two volumes on "The Spiritual Heritage of Annmacharya". But for this volume, his multiple assignments at home and abroad made it difficult for him to be the co-author. However, it was my good fortune, that even in the midst of his hectic national and international activities, he was able to spare sufficient time to go through the English translation of the poems. I wish to place on record my sincere and greatful thanks to Prof. M. Narasimhacharya for all the encouraging words and help extended.
I wish to also place on record my sincere thanks to Shri Balasubramaniam who was associated for nearly three decades r and more with the Carnatic Music Book Centre and Indian Music s Publishing House, Madras. He is a veritable walking encyclopedia s on the available books covering the life history and works of almost all leading composers. His zeal in collecting the available literature from various sources and putting me in touch with various musicians and academicians is something that I cannot ever forget. My sincere thanks to him in this regard. The Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams has been doing yeoman service to the public by arranging for Darshan for lakhs of pilgrims and at the same time spreading Hindu Dharma, across the length and breadth ofIndia. Shri Krishna Rao, I.A.S., Executive Officer, Tirumala Tirupathi Devasthanams has been giving commendable administrative leadership for this holy task As part of the activities of the propagation of Hindu Religion, The Annamacharya Project has received special attention at his hands. He has provided the fillip for the activities at Tallapaka, popularizing the songs of the Saint and by bringing out publications on the songs of Shri Annamayya. It is as part of this effort that he has accepted this work for publication. I am greatly thankful for his decision to bring out this work as part of the Annamacharya Project. To have the vision to take up many activities is itself great to successfully implement them is greater still. I am grateful for his brining out this work - a small step in a big effort.
To visualize a major project is one thing; to give it shape and thrust is another challenging thing. Shri Medasani Mohan has been heading the Annamacharya Project with dedication and devotion. I am thankful to him for his effectively implementing the decision of the Executive Officer, Tirumala Tirupathi Devasthanams to bring out Vol. III of the Spiritual Heritage of Sri Annamacharya. The appeal of a book is as much because of the contents as because of the visual appeal of the get up and printing of the book. I am thankful to Sri C. Saila Kurnar, Chief Editor, Sapthagiri Journal and Head of the TTD of the TTD Press who brought out this book with speed, precision and visual appeal. It is the little touches which make a work more acceptable. Sri Saila Kumar has rendered the small touches and discharged the big task with finesse and efficiency. My special thanks to him also.
I do sincerely hope and pray that the readers will enjoy reading this small booklet.
This is a successor volume to the two books brought out earlier under the title "The Spiritual Heritage of Annamacharya". Those two volumes were published by the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams, Tirupati. In both of those volumes, select poems of Annarnacharya were translated into English and the Vedantic and the underlying Vaishnavite philosophies conveyed through those poems were explained. As the readers know, Sri Annamacharya is a great and prolific composer. He composed nearly thirty two thousand poems, mostly on Lord Srinivasa of Tirumala. Less than 100 poems only are on other deities like Lord Narasimha of Ahobilam, etc. But in those poems also, he finally ends up the poems by saying that those deities are none other than Lord Srinivasa of Tirumala! Thus, the outpouring of this poet is centered around the single deity popularly referred to a Kaliyuga Pratyaksha Deivam.
There have been many composers who have adopted the bhakti marga of devotion to the Lord. To illustrate, the Alvars who composed nearly four thousand pasurams on the deities of the 108
Vaishnavite Divya Desas initiated the devotees into the bhakti marga of worship. The other illustrious composers like Tyagaraja, Ramadas, Kabirdas, Surdas, Purandara Dasa and Bhakta Mira also composed songs on various deities and each of those compositions excelled in madhura bhakti. But there are two main points of difference between the compositions of Annamacharya and those of others. The first aspect is the mind boggling number of songs composed by Annamacharya. As stated earlier, he has composed nearly thirty two thousand songs. None of the other composers are anywhere near this stupendous numerical achievement. The second main difference lies in the fact that all the poems of Annamacharya are only on one single deity viz. Lord Srinivasa of Tirumala. This surrender at the feet of single supreme deity is a factor which puts his poems in a different class altogether. To Annamacharya, Lord Venkatachalapati is Lord Narayana On some occasions sometimes he describes Him as The Virat Purusha; in some other poems he refers to the various manifestations of the Lord i.e. the ten avataras and that the Lord of the Seven Hills is all those avataras. His poems deal with social issues, Vaishnavite philosophy, sometimes ridiculing and decrying other religious thoughts. In some he looks at the Lord as a child and sings a lullaby to The Supreme even as Perialvar became and enjoyed the Supreme as child Krishna. In some other poems, the poet is able to covey the eternal truths enunciated in the Upanishads, the Puranas and Gita through simple language which even the illiterate masses can understand. He uses homely similar to drive home a point. Thus his poetry is heavy in content for the discerni9ng and is simple in language to also appeal to the hearts of the illiterate.
To this great composer Lord Srinivasa is a living reality. He is able to converse with Him, ask Him questions, get the answers, offer Him advice and at the same time also exercise the authority of a sincere devotee in questioning some of His actions and inactions with a sense of familiarity that comes out of intense devotion to the Lord. In one poem, the poet dares to tell the Lord that but for him (i.e. the poet) Lord Srinivasa would not have been so popular! The variegated fare offered by the great Vaggeyakara Sri Annamacharya is succinctly summed up by his grandson Tallapaka Chinnanna in the following words:
"Sruthulai, Saastramulai, puraana kathalai,
Sujnaana saramulai, athi lokagama Veedhulai,
Vidha mantraarthambulai, neethulai, kruthulai,
Venkatasaila vallabha rathi kreeda rahasyabulai,
The above lines translated will run as follows:
"The compositions of Sri Tallapaka Annamacharya are scriptural statements, sastras, puranic episodes, quintessential studies about the highest reality, consummation of the exalted Agama statements, repositories of the meanings of many mantras, moral instructions and secret exposition of the great Divine Love of Lord Venkateswara and His Consort"
To sum up, the poems of Annamacharya are a deep ocean. All the books written so far, we can assert without the fear of being contradicted, are at best only like a child picking up sea shells on the sea shore! What is picked and presented provides an enjoyable spiritual experience. But what remains still and bound to be more enthralling.
In Volume One of "The Spiritual Heritage of Annamacharya" two chapters were general in nature – one briefly explain the life history of the great composer, and the other comparing his thoughts with those of the Alvars who are the Vaihnava mystic poetry of Tamil literature. In that volume, 35 songs of the composer were translated into English. The Second Volume of "The Spiritual Heritage of Annamacharya", a general chapter on the concept of Saranagati the bedrock of Baishnava philosophy was explained and then about 100 songs of Annamacharya dealing with this concept were presented.
In this Third Volume, I propose to follow the same pattern. The second chapter which will be general in nature will be dealing with the significant role played by a temple in the lives of thte people. Later the concept of "utsava" will be explained. It will be followed in chapter three by a brief resume of the nitya sevas, special vassra sevas (i.e. specific weekly) and some select important festivals celebrated in Tirumala to Lord Srinivasa. Tirumala, every day there is some festival or the other in the temple. The milling crowds who throng to this temple very often cross the mark of one lakh pilgrims a day! The temple authorities provide free food to nearly 50,000 and above devotees every day. The town is referred to as one where there is "Nitya kalyanam pachcha thoranam" i.e. there is a celestial wedding celebrated every day for the deity with the pilgrim centre being decorated with mango leaves, plantain, trees, coconut bunches etc. with mangala vadyas and mantras reverberating in the hills having a festive wedding hall ambience. The temple town is usally referred to as Bhuloka Vaikuntha! As stated earlier the plethora of festivals observed in a years in Tirumala is something unsurpassed in any other temple in and festival celebrated in Tirumala within the covers of this small book. I have therefore attempted to give a brief account of all the "nitya sevas", all the special weekly sevas", all the special weekly sevas and then the significance of only certain special festivals like the Brahmotsava, Rathotsava, Pushpa yaga, Dolotsava and Kalyanotsava. In chapter four a brief description of the Deity at Tirumala as seen from some songs of the poet is given.
In the fifth chapter of the book Annamacharya's songs on some of the utsavas are presented. The original song in Telugu is literally spelt out in English and then a free translation of the said song in English with a brief explanation wherever necessary is presented In addition some songs of Annamacharya on the Nityasuris viz., Garuda, Sesha, Vishvaksena as also on some prominent vahanas of the deity like Hanuman, Horse etc, are presented.
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